Rites of Passage

Judith Flanders

29 February 2024
352 pages


'Nobody knows more about everyday life in Victorian Britain than Judith Flanders' - Douglas Robert-Fairhurst, author of Metamorphosis and The Turning Point

In Rites of Passage, acclaimed historian Judith Flanders deconstructs the intricate, fascinating, and occasionally – to modern eyes – bizarre customs that grew up around death and mourning in Victorian Britain.

Through stories from the sickbed to the deathbed, from the correct way to grieve and to give comfort to those grieving to funerals and burials and the reaction of those left behind, Flanders illuminates how living in nineteenth-century Britain was, in so many ways, dictated by dying.

This is an engrossing, deeply researched and, at times, chilling social history of a period plagued by infant death, poverty, disease, and unprecedented change. In elegant, often witty prose, Flanders brings the Victorian way of death vividly to life.

Nobody knows more about everyday life in Victorian Britain than Judith Flanders, and in Rites of Passage she offers a compelling and often darkly comic history of the period’s fascination with death.
Flanders writes with sharp intelligence and first-class scholarly attention to detail . . . and rather relishes the swirling gothic atmosphere of her subject, which takes in everything from bodysnatching to suicide, capital punishment to cremation
The socio-economics of death in the long 19th century proves gruesomely fascinating and Flanders is a skilful marshaller of details to prove i . . . A gifted social historian